That’s the question, isn’t it?  As Facebook makes “Likes” even more meaningless than they already were, and in spite of the common perception that your primary path to success is through social media, for most artists social media numbers simply don’t translate into actual purchasing fans.

So, how do you sell your music?

So, I’m not going to waste your time by answering that question the way the music industry USED to work, right?  Because that way is dead and gone and no longer applies to 99.9% of artists today.  And I’m assuming you’re not part of that .1%, because I’m guessing they aren’t reading this blog…

The short answer is – you must make a genuine and real connection with your fans.  Then, and only then, you must ask for the sale.

If you ask for the sale before you make the genuine and real connection, it will fall flat.  You will be just one more spamming, self-involved artist.  If you just make the genuine and real connection but don’t ever call your fans to action – that action being to buy tickets to a show, download or purchase your CD or buy your merch) – then you will feel the love, but you won’t be able to pay the bills.

So let’s break that out into the two steps.

Make a Genuine and Real Connection with Your Fans

Yep – I’ve said it, real connection, real relationship – that means you have to actually spend time connecting with your fans, finding out who they are, what’s important to them, what you have in common with them, creating rapport with them – in other words, Marketing!

Lest you think you’re already marketing – marketing is NOT:

  • Repeating ad nauseum – “check out my blog/youtube video/song on youtube, whatever!!!”
  • tweeting/facebooking about what you had for dinner, what your cat threw up or how many times you’ve changed your guitar strings.
  • tweeting/facebooking/G+ing how you recorded this song and who’s playing on that track. How cool are you?

That’s not marketing.  Because marketing has more to do with your market than with you.  And it’s not even sales – because there’s no real call to action, there’s a backhanded, implied call to action in the “check out my …”  Because the implication is, that if they check it out, then they’ll buy it.  But they don’t, do they?  Because it’s not a clear call to action.  And it’s not built on a real connection.  Because in order to make a real connection – you have to actually connect with them, not blast at them.

Real marketing is defined as:

Creating an environment in which people WANT to buy.  An environment in which they feel safe, excited, even driven to buy.

So you have to ask – what makes people want to buy?  And how do you inspire that experience in your fans?

The short answer is, that depends on your fans.  It depends on who they are.  What’s important to them.  What they’re passionate about.

If you can key into that and connect with them about what is important to them, they will go out of their way to buy from you.

If you can help them with a problem, help them fulfill a need, they will beat down your door to buy from you.

And if you can make them feel like they actually, genuinely matter to you, that you truly get them, they will get all their friends to buy from you.

But in order to do that – you have to listen.  You have to ask questions.  You have to know who they are and understand what their needs are.  And that takes actual work that has nothing to do with your music.  It has to do with getting online and reading their stream and asking them questions.  It has to do with responding to their questions in a way that is genuine and real.  It has to do with seeing someone, for example, ask for information about a realtor on Facebook and going to your stream and finding a realtor to recommend to them.  Or reading about them having a tough time in their lives and offering compassion and empathy.  Sometimes it just means responding to their joke with a real laugh of enjoyment and sharing it.

But Debra, that would take so much time!  Whose got time for that?  I just want them to buy my stuff, come out to my show, tell their friends about me!

But why should they?  WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM???

Look, I get it.  You’re busy, we all are.  But the best way to create real success over the long term is to create real fans in the short term.  Fans who will love you for life.  Fans who will share you with their friends.  Fans who will come work for you as your street team.  That’s how you create success.  It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

And I don’t believe there’s a quick and dirty shortcut.  Can you outsource this?  Maybe.

But you better outsource this to someone who really gets that what they need to do is create a real experience of you in your prospective fans’ hearts and minds.  You can systematize this connection so it doesn’t take over your life.  You can schedule specific, limited daily actions.  You can delegate the parts of the system that don’t need your voice and your touch.

But ultimately you are creating a relationship between you and your fans – and no one else is going to be able to do that for you.

So, now, you’ve built connections with your fans, your fans RT and share your content.  They respond when you ask them questions, they’re ready.

NOW Ask for the Sale

Here’s where it can be scary.  You’ve spent all this time creating a real relationship with them, but now you have to ask for money.  You have to ask them to contribute to your Kickstarter or buy tickets to your show.  You have to ask them share you with their friends by buying a CD as a Christmas gift.

And that can be scary – because you’ve actually created a relationship with them.  They’ve started to matter to you.  And if they say “No.” it might hurt.

But what if you think about it differently.  What if “No” doesn’t mean that they don’t love you or whatever you’re currently making it mean that makes it hurt.  What if “No” means either:

  1. This isn’t the right time/place/format/price for them, or
  2. They’re not the right fan for you?

If it’s the first, well, you can package your products differently, at different price points, formats, or whatever to make it easier for your fans to say “Yes.”  You can also change the energy around the “Ask” to generate excitement or humor or the emotion in your fans that your fans will respond to.

And how do you know what that is?  Oh, yeah, that’s right – YOU KNOW THEM!

You can test different ways to ask them and see what works.  But when you’re designing your “Ask” remember, you want to create in them the same emotional connection you feel when you’re excited, inspired and happily anticipating buying something.  Make it fun.  Make it real.  Just think about the last time you bought something and you felt really good about it.  Yeah – that – that’s the same feeling that will inspire your fans to take action.  So, what was it about the offer you purchased that made you want to buy?  How can you translate that into your offer for your fans?

And if its the second, no worries – because if you’ve spent a lot of time in the first step, then you have enough people.  So that even if one person isn’t the right fan for you, there are others who are!  So no single “No” will make or break your career.  And if you just ask for the sale enough, with a strong groundwork of relationship, you’re going to get plenty of fans who will say yes, happily!  Not only will they say yes happily.  But they will love you for asking.  And they will love saying yes to you!

Because your success has become important to them.  And why has it become important to them?  BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU!

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Debra Russell, Speaker, Certified Master Results Business Coach, and Certified NLP and Hypnosis Master Practitioner is the founder of Artists EDGE. Specializing in the Music Business, Arts and Entertainment Industry and with Professional Athletes, Debra is guided by your passion as she applies her business knowledge and ability to facilitate transformational change and growth to guide you to success in your chosen field.

For more support, tools and resources, check out the Artist’s EDGE Website where you can also find more articles. Or follow Debra on Twitter.


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12 Days of Monetization is a 12-part series designed to help you make more money. Ariel and team Cyber PR asked 12 of their favorite colleagues to contribute and we hope you enjoy this series.